Ranji Trophy: Abhinav, Indrajith keep TN hopes alive

Tamil Nadu skipper Abhinav Mukund and Baba Indrajith score entertaining centuries to help their side set Mumbai a dicey target of 251 runs to win.

A fabulous partnership... Tamil Nadu captain Abhinav Mukund (right) and Baba Indrajith scored centuries, as they strung together 185 runs for the second wicket to take the fight to the Mumbai camp.   -  R. V. MOORTHY

While referring to his team’s tactics, the Tamil Nadu captain, Abhinav Mukund, had said after the third day’s play that the team had played “boring cricket throughout the season”. Before the start of the penultimate day’s proceedings of the Ranji Trophy semifinal against Mumbai, Tamil Nadu’s batting unit knew very well that it just cannot afford to be boring if it had to keep the match — and as a result the team’s title hunt — alive.

READ: >Tamil Nadu penalised for running on pitch

The Tamil Nadu batsmen executed their plan to perfection, as Abhinav and Baba Indrajith scored entertaining centuries to help their side set Mumbai a dicey target of 251 runs to win. Such was Tamil Nadu’s onslaught that it could declare the innings at 356 for six in 78 overs, thereby making Mumbai openers bat for an anxious 20-odd minutes that Praful Waghela and debutant Prithvi Shaw eventually survived.

> SCORECARD

With Tamil Nadu having conceded a sizeable 101-run lead — which was revised to 106 after the team had been penalised five runs for running on the danger area while batting in the second innings — in the first innings, it had to come back hard in the second. Once Abhinav and his partner, debutant V. Ganga Sridhar Raju, had their eye in, the two left-handers tried to up the ante. When Raju was out plumb in front after missing a straight one from Balwinder Singh Sandhu, Indrajith was promoted ahead of M. Kaushik Gandhi.

The stylish right-hander did not take long to settle down, as he, in the company of his skipper, kept the scoreboard ticking. Even before lunch, the two batsmen helped Tamil Nadu wipe off the deficit and set their eyes on raising the scoring rate. With Mumbai opting to take the defensive route too early, Abhinav and Indrajith had plenty of gaps to play the ball into, as they milked the bowling.

Adding to Mumbai’s problems were its bowlers who failed to bowl to their fields. They bowled too many loose deliveries on a wicket that has marginally worn off, with a day’s play remaining. This gave Abhinav and Indrajith the opportunity to display their prowess, as they flicked, drove, punched and swept the Mumbai bowlers. While Indrajith played a flawless innings, Abhinav was let off on 70, off left-arm spinner Vijay Gohil’s successive deliveries. While Aditya Tare failed to collect the ball after Abhinav had stepped out and missed, Gohil could not latch on to a return catch off the next ball.

After the second wicket partnership, worth 185 runs, ended with Abhinav edging off-spinner Akshay Girap to Shaw in the slips, Dinesh Karthik (24 off 16 balls) played a cameo. This was, however, overshadowed by the umpires, who reprimanded Karthik for running on the danger area.

The umpires ran out of patience when they found Vijay Shankar intentionally running on danger area and they penalised the batting team with five runs.